Two Empire IP NPEs Extend Dialog Box and Anti-Theft Litigation Campaigns
One recently formed NPE affiliated with Empire IP LLC has asserted a familiar patent in a new litigation campaign, while another has expanded an existing campaign, both in Texas. Listou Search Technologies LLC filed separate complaints against clothing retailers Men’s Wearhouse (5:16-cv-00144) and Stanley Korshak (5:16-cv-00145), asserting a single patent (6,216,139) generally related to the display of dialog boxes in a computer system. As in the prior campaign, litigated by the inventor in Delaware, the accused products are the defendants’ websites. Meanwhile, Theft Prevention Innovations LLC has added cases against AeroScout and Stanley Black & Decker (2:16-cv-01060), Elpas and Tyco (2:16-cv-01057), and RF Code (2:16-cv-01059). Two patents (7,671,741; 9,165,446) from a three-patent family generally related to anti-theft systems are asserted in the campaign, which targets the defendants’ asset tags and tracking systems.
Listou Search Technologies was formed on September 13, 2016 in Texas, and received rights in the ‘139 patent the following day from Empire IP. The latter entity acquired the ‘139 patent two weeks earlier (on August 31) from Execware, LLC, a Virginia company that asserted the patent in a prior Delaware campaign against a large number of retailers. Execware was formed in July 2011; Robert Listou, the sole named inventor on the ‘139 patent, as well as several others of comparable subject matter, holds himself out as having been the entity’s CEO since formation. Late 2011 press releases announced that Execware had engaged IP Navigation Group, LLC (d/b/a IPNav) as its monetization adviser. The resulting litigation campaign began in Delaware that September, eventually hitting many retailers, including Amazon, Costco, CVS, eBay, Sears, and Target, as well as other companies (e.g. AT&T, Hyatt, and Yahoo). The last dismissals in cases from that campaign, as to Blue Nile and Macy’s, were entered in early August. Listou Search Technologies’s new complaints note that a magistrate judge recommended the denial of a motion to dismiss on Alice grounds, which had sought to invalidate the asserted claims as directed to the abstract idea of “displaying, classifying, and organizing unspecified information (referred to as text data objects) in an unspecified transaction”. Judge Leonard Stark accepted the recommendation in September 2015, without prejudice to re-filing later after claim construction as a motion for summary judgment.
Theft Prevention Innovations kicked off its litigation campaign in May 2016 with cases against AiRISTA and Ekahau, AwarePoint, and Sonitor Technologies. Empire IP received rights in the patents-in-suit in this campaign, from operating company Autronic Plastics in September 2014 and assigned them to Theft Prevention Innovations in April 2016, two days after the latter entity was formed in Texas. The asserted patent family issued between March 2010 and October 2015, and the Texas cases remain in early stages.
Over the past five years, subsidiaries of Empire IP have filed hundreds of patent infringement suits against operating companies. Indeed, every several months in 2016, Empire IP has been forming Texas entities, transferring patent rights to some of them, and launching litigation campaigns through a subset of those affiliates. For example, in March 2016, Daniel Mitry and Timothy M. Salmon, the founders of Empire IP, formed Environment Sensor Systems LLC, Voice2Text Innovations LLC, and Spinal Implant Innovations LLC in Texas. Environment Sensor Systems has subsequently asserted an environmental detection patent (7,231,298) in a campaign against seven defendants; and Voice2Text Innovations has litigated one voicemail transcription patent (8,914,003), from among several acquired, in a campaign against four defendants. The assignment of rights in a single spinal implant patent (6,179,873) to Spinal Implant Innovations has been recorded, but the NPE has not yet launched litigation.
In June 2016, Mitry and Salmon formed four more Texas LLCs: Computer Tracking Systems LLC, IP Pioneer Consulting LLC, Link Engine Technologies LLC, and Open IP Group LLC. At least two gambling system patents (6,666,768; 6,872,138) have been assigned to Computer Tracking Systems, which has subsequently asserted them in litigation, more information about which can be found here. At least one patent (7,480,694), generally related to web playlists, has been assigned to Link Engine, but it has yet to be asserted. USPTO records do not reflect recorded assignments to IP Pioneer Consulting or Open IP Group.